Junior Cert: Phone recycling question has students lost in translation

Junior Certificate Spanish was taken by 9,000 students yesterday morning.

Susan Leahy, vice- president of the Association of Teachers of Spanish in Ireland, said the listening test followed the usual format closely.

For higher-level students, there was an appeal to students’ environmental conscience with a text about recycling mobile phones. A dialogue between two adults, usually where young people are seen in conversation, was about eating in a pizzeria with an order of artichokes, anchovies, and pineapple — which Ms Leahy said even the most hardened stomach might question.

She said anyone expecting mention of Euro 2016 or the Rio Olympics would have been disappointed. While there were some more difficult sections in the exam, she suggested this was partly due to a need to differentiate rising numbers of students for Junior Certificate Spanish.

Robbie Cronin of the Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland (Asti) thought it a fair paper, with a wide range of comprehension pieces covering issues that included a robot with feelings.

However, he thought students were not pleased with the piece about mobile-phone recycling, which asked about other uses for the chemical substance coltan and the effects of its mining in Congo. He was more positive about the written expression section, particularly a letter to a penpal about a recent stay with them in San Sebastian.

Ms Leahy said the ordinary-level paper was very student-friendly, with no surprises. The topics covered included ‘smart shoes’ that change colour and design through a mobile app, and the growing number of jellyfish in the sea.

In the afternoon, metalwork was examined; students had already completed a project and a practical exam demanding high levels of engineering precision.

Asti’s Donal Cremin said the 6,400 students taking higher level had a written exam seen as fair, but challenging in places. It had a nice mix of questions on traditional metalwork and modern cutting-edge technology.

The design of a remote-control console and the environmental impact of drone technology were featured.

He described the diagrams as relevant and clear, being used to good effect throughout. A compulsory question gave students an opportunity to show the design and practical skills developed in their project making a model remote-control trike.

Ordinary-level students were also asked about their coursework project, which required them to make a model flyaround aircraft.

Mr Cremin said the use of images and graphics to stimulate students was welcome, and questions on tablet computers and smartphones helped make it an accessible and relevant paper.


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